Want to create a “community” where participants can learn from each other and support each other’s growth

 In 2017, I worked as an organizing committee member for the “Career Guidance for High School Students with Immigrant Background” with teachers from Tokyo Metropolitan High School. The purpose of this guidance is to help the students who have come to Japan from abroad for various reasons to think about their own career paths upon graduation from high school. It was a good opportunity for those students to get together beyond the boundaries of their schools and think about their future together with working people and university students who have had similar experiences.

 Through this activity, I became aware of the need for continuous individual support with care for those students to encourage their growth. Kageyama, co-founder of glolab and has an immigrant background, also worked for this event as an organizing committee member said, “When I was a high school student, there was no place where I could ask for advice about my career path and future plan. I wanted to create a “community” where young people with immigrant backgrounds could gather and learn and grow together.

 The goal of glolab is to create a “community” where participants can learn from each other and support each other’s growth. In order to achieve this, it is important for the participants to think and act on their own idea. Through various trials and errors, we decided to start creating a place where working people and university students with immigrant backgrounds (“Youth”) support high school students.

 Today, I would like to introduce to you the case we learned from the field that the Youth had a hidden power which was beyond our expectation.

 On December 17th, 2019, Career Guidance for High School Students with immigrant backgrounds (co-hosted with the Tokyo Council for International Education and Research) was held again. The main guest speaker was Mr. David Yano (musician, narrator, moderator, representative of Enije Incorporated Association, visiting lecturer at Meisei University), followed by a group discussion among students. Three Youth from glolab (A, B, and C) facilitated this group discussion.

 These three youths took an initiative in supporting student’s discussion by giving an atmosphere that made students easier to express their opinions. Also, youth A gave enthusiastic advice to the student who is from the same country about required preparation in entering university. Youth C, who has a root in Africa, talked about his own experiences to those who have the same backgrounds, for example the image of Africa Japanese tend to have and Japanese’s ignorance.

 To my surprise, after the group discussion, these three youths proposed to me that they hold a meeting to talk with students about their experiences further and listen to student’s concerns. I was very pleased to hear this because I felt they truly have responsibility and mission to achieve and this was the first time they expressed their desire to do something, except when we adults suggested it.

 Then, I realized that these youth members will be able to demonstrate their full potential if we give the field to play for them. I believe their competence to “discover problems” and “communicate and motivate others” were cultivated through their experience of making friends in Japan which is a different cultural environment from their home country, and making decisions on their own by researching information on career paths and entrance exams in unfamiliar Japanese language.

 I hope to create more “fields” like above in the future. I hope to create a “community” where participants can learn from each other and support each other’s growth and hope this community supports youth and students with immigrant backgrounds power and growth potential to be offered to and recognized by Japanese society through the projects initiated in glolab.

Chiho Shibayama

Born in Aichi prefecture. First learned about immigrant children when met unschooled children in a district where a large Japanese-Brazilian population resides. After working full time for a semiconductor manufacturer, started working with a non-profit organization that supports immigrant children to enter high school in Japan. Later became a Japanese language instructor, engaged in consultations for career planning and Japanese language education at an organization that supports refugees. Enjoy Salsa dancing and music.